Saturday, October 15, 2011

MAKING HIJRAH 38 "Repair Work"

Asalamu Alaykom,

I started writing this when I was so mad at my husband that I couldn't sleep.

That's pretty mad for a tired teacher on a Thursday night!

So, I took to the blog to tell a story about him.  No, I didn't want to backbite and discuss our problems.  I wanted to tell about a time when I really loved him and cared about him:

Four months into our marriage and only weeks into living at the family house, I got a bit of a shock.  My husband had already told me before we engaged that he would be needing an operation.  So, I had come to terms with this.  Don't worry---I wasn't going to be paying for it. 

When he went to his doctor's appointment that Spring of 2010, I was getting mentally prepared for eventuality of setting a date. When would he go into the hospital?  That's when the doctor told him that it had to be done right away.  He could no longer delay.

That shocked me.

We had only just moved into our new home.  We were newlyweds!  It wasn't in my plans to be without my husband this soon.

That thought led to another thought.  Could I lose my husband on the operating table?  I knew that I could.  Allah's plans are not our plans.  I really didn't know what the outcome would be.  I prayed that it would be successful and that my husband's life would be improved. 

Yet we are alhumdulillah both practical people so we talked.  We talked in hushed tones after my boy was in bed.  We talked about death and about plans.  He told me what I would have to do if he died.  From our discussions, I had to think about a possible life alone again.  I felt scared.  I felt scared for him going under anesthesia and being cut open.  I felt scared for my boy and I in jeopardy for losing not only our caretaker but our home.  Without my husband, I would have no home.

The timing was awful.  There was a big Open House day planned at school.  Every day was busy with the kids and busy preparing for our invited guests.  I could not take time off.

The day of the operation approached.  We had said our "goodbyes" and we knew it might be our last.  I'm not trying to sound overly dramatic.  Really, we felt the power of God in the moment and we were not sure of the outcome.  We could only do what we had to do.

So, I went to work to do my best.  Guess what?  My assistant didn't come in!  She had something else going on in her life.  Me?  My husband was having surgery and I still made it in because I'm committed to being a teacher.  I have a work ethic and a need to do my best.  My assistant not coming in that day was so upsetting.  Later, she was not invited back (and deservedly so).

I went home with a heavy heart.  I had no idea what kind of shape he'd be in.  I walked in the door and saw him lying there on the cushions.  He looked OK!

"Bokra," he told me.  Tomorrow!  The surgery had been postponed.  So, now I would have another day of watching the clock and wondering while trying to teach four-year-olds.

The next day came and it was the Open House.  I had everybody and their auntie coming to see me.  It wasn't just moms and dads; the principal of our school, the principal at the National School, and the Headmistress all came.  They even sent over teachers to observe me because the Headmistress thought they could learn from me.  PRESSURE!  All of that was going on ON TOP of the fact that my husband was in the hospital.

Again, I went home.  I thought that he'd be sitting on cushions again.  Maybe the operation would have gotten cancelled another time.  No.  He wasn't there.  He was still recovering at the hospital.  He hadn't even woken up yet! 

I was supposed to eat with the family but I couldn't.  Later, I would get the call and hear his voice.  He sounded both awful and wonderful.  Alhumdulillah he was alive.  He would be coming home.  We would still have that chance to build a life together.  It felt really good.

However, our time to be together wasn't going to be for at least a week.  He wasn't coming home to me.  He was coming home to mama.  This is going to sound really foreign to American readers but men over here love their mothers very intensely.  A wife could never give her Egyptian husband (especially her sick Egyptian husband) all the tender loving care he needs.  This was especially true for me; a working woman.  So, my husband would be living downstairs for the time being and I would have to deal with it.

At first, I didn't like the idea but then I tried to see the blessings in it.  I could re-adjust to life in the apartment without him for a while.  It would be about a week until he could climb stairs again.  No problem.  I could go down and see him.

I forgot:  Egyptians love to visit the ill.  It's Islamic to visit those who are suffering illness and ailments.  Somehow, though, the good intentions get lost and long visits become a burden.  The family has to pay for special drinks and food----not for the bedridden patient but for the visitors!  And those visitors stay and talk and prattle on as the person who they came to see gets forgotten.  It's truly BAD for someone's health to be visited for long hours, yet it happens.

On the first day, my husband looked bad.  He was so weak and pale; almost lifeless.  He was under extreme pain and discomfort.  I was next to him trying to help him at the same time as everyone else was trying too.  I didn't know what to do.  I felt like I should back off and let them help Ahmed.

So, on the second day, I stayed away from him a bit more.  All the visitors would be company for him.  I could not compete.  I saw him on the third day and was alarmed.  He looked horrible!  What had they done to him?!

I yelled at the family that it's insane to have a party while he is recouperating.  I yelled and then cried.  I was so upset.  They all thought I was insane.  I think there's one aunt who still avoids visiting the house to this day because of that tirade.  When I saw her during last Eid, she eyed me as if I might explode at any minute. 

From that point on, I made sure that my knowledge and assistance was felt in my husband's life.  Though others laid claim to it, I had to hold the title as "Main Caregiver."  So, I helped him to the bathroom.  I helped him eat, drink and dress.  He was a big baby in many ways but he was still my man.

I found a new level of loving him during that time.  Though we never spoke the vow, "In sickness and in health," it played time and again in my head.  We found a way to connect which was very dear and precious.  It was with love in our eyes and an aura of sweetness around us.  We were only able to spend short moments alone together before someone rang the doorbell.  Every moment we had was savored.

I miss that, in a way, today as I type.  We all get busy with our lives and we forget the many levels of love.  We think about affection and we envision kisses and cuddles.  What do you do when that's not allowable?  You find a new way.  You don't run away.  You find a new way and you find it together.

After about a week, he could climb back to our apartment for sleeping and solace.  He missed the quiet of a locked door.  He missed being able to let his guard down and relax with me.  The public and private persona in Egypt is so different. If you don't have true alone time, you really end up missing your husband.

For months and months, we had to be careful of his health.  He couldn't stand too long, sit too long, lift anything too heavy and so on.  I remember buying our ironing board during this time.  It was something I really needed but after we bought it I realized that I would have to carry it home.  I struggled with it through the streets and I knew that some people would stare and wonder why Ahmed wasn't carrying it.  With every step, I tried to remain cheerful because it wasn't enough for me to carry the heavy burden---I wanted to do it with happiness in my heart.

Alhumdulillah that time passed.  Alhumdulillah his health was greatly improved.  Alhumdulillah it's part of our interwoven history of events which have made us stronger.

Chapter 39


Asma Khan said...

Best wishes for both you, stay happy always... :)
Visit my blog--> Stay Blessed

Laila said...

Asalaamu alaikom wrwb my dear sister in islam. inshallah you get this writting in the best health and imaan.dear ukhti walahi i love you for the sake of allah and may he grant us a shade under his shade on the day where there's no other shade exept his. reading all of you hijra post,i couldn't help but to run to the computer to finsh of where i aad left of after .you are truly insprational .i came across your post looking into hjrah info and , i'm glade i did for i've found you. inshallah i look forward to reading your posts and will be keeping you in my duas. give mr Boo a big hug for me and my salaams to brother Ahmed. inshallah we will meet one day....fii amanaAllah

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Asma,

Thank you for stopping by. Sorry it's taken me so long to greet you.

Wa Alaykom Asalam Wa Rahtmatullahi Wa Barakatu Laila,

Nice to get your kind words today! Ramadan Kareem to you and yours.

Alhumduilllah I am fine as are my husband and my son. Thank you for asking.

Ameen to your beautiful du'a.

I am really glad to hear that you were pulled to the blog and to the "Making Hijrah" posts. Alhumdulillah. I felt that it wasn't fair to only have the experience without sharing it. From writing it out perhaps I've helped someone else (like YOU) understand that first year of starting over. It's not easy but God makes it as easy for you as He can. Subhanallah.

It was funny last night, I could see in the "Recent Visitors" column on the sidebar that I had two people reading through "Making Hijrah". I've heard it's a page turner. The funny thing is that it's all true. I didn't have to make up a thing because God always gives us a better story than what we could make up.

May Allah make your hijrah easy on you and give you helpers along the way. If you come to Egypt, then I hope to be one of them inshahallah.

Love and Light!

Laila said...

Asalaamu Ailaikum wrwb

Shukran ukhti for the response.i was soo happy to come back to see your comment. i laughted when you said you could hear the pages turning on the making hijra colm. maybe it was me lol. walah i felt i was right there watching your every move. there was the time you walked into the barber n you met ur old friend, when Boo had blood gushing from his head and when khalo was going through the surgery. i can go on n on but but that would mean rewitting the whole stiry again lol. you are brilent in your writting. as i read every page i could feel you emotions the happy ones n the sad ones. may allah ta'ala be your guide forever. you said that if you wrote a book that not many ppl would have seen it or read it. you were right. now some many of us can see it and be with you on ur journey along the way and keep you n your family in our duas. abit about me, i live in canada with my husban and 3 children ages 2, 5 and 6yrs old. alhamdulillah we are greatful to be where we are in terms of dunya wise but for our emaan we can do more.i wish i can live in egypt just like you to raise my children in a place where we can perserve our deen n teach our children arabic the language of the quran.i'm sorry for going on n on. but i just wanted to share that with you. please update us on egypt n how trhinghs are around you. take care uthti and keep us in your duas as well, thank you and jazakallah khairan.

your sister in islam,
Laila ( umaisha)

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Sister Laila,

Mashahallah you're busy with 2, 5 and 6!!! May Allah make it easy on you to raise your little blessings.

I think it's really great that you think "alhumdulillah" for Canada while still wondering if there's something better for deen. It's when we get stuck in complacency that we fail. I think it's always good to have both the gratefulness AND the hope for better. If you are meant to make hijrah then it will really present itself in an obvious way. God doesn't really make things hard for us to understand---we just have to listen.

You made me smile when you listed a few of your favorite parts within that first year. I still marvel at that barber shop encounter. I realize that it seems almost untrue--even to me remembering it. Subhanallah.

Ameen to all your kind du'as for me and my family. Wallahi, some days are easier than others (and today isn't one of them) so it's nice to be kind to people always. You never know when your kindness is the day brightener for someone else.

UmAisha, I hope to see you in the comments again :)

Light and Love!